Demonstrators take part in a protest marking the first anniversary of Egypt’s uprising at Tahrir square in Cairo January 25, 2012. REUTERS/ Mohamed Abd El-Ghany
CAIRO – 25 February 2018: In reply to a feature and documentary published by the BBC under the title “The shadow over Egypt”, the State Information Service (SIS) issued a statement rebuking the reporter, Orla Guerin, for committing “journalistic misdemeanors”.
The feature is written with the supposed testament of several individuals who have reportedly been subjected to torture by Egyptian authorities for being involved in protests or being thought of has having been involved in protests when they haven’t, as they claim.
Yet, the SIS issued a statement focusing on some “shadows” or loopholes in Guerin’s narrative. The first of which was concerned with her first character, a woman called Zubeida, to which the SIS questioned: “The BBC’s report did not mention any personal information pertaining to the case of the so-called “Zubeida”, which has reportedly disappeared. Despite showing photos and videos of her and her mother and their home, which casts a shade of doubt on the writer’s intentions and objectives … it is impossible to follow up “Zubeida’s” case without information about her and her case. Additionally, the SIS has tried several times to contact the reporter on her phone… but she did not answer.”
In another point, Guerin also stated that when Zubeida was allegedly taken by forces, that she “had her brother’s mobile and managed a quick call to a relative, according to her mother. ‘He could hear the officer insulting her and then the phone was switched off.’” To this point the SIS questioned how her brother could identify from the man’s voice that he was an Egyptian authority.
“It is not known to the SIS that there were any technological methods through which one could identify a person’s identity and occupation simply from listening to his voice; save of course if the writer and the mother have this technological ability that isn’t known to mankind yet,” the SIS’s report said.
Some of the statistics that Guerin relied on came from an organization named “The Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedom”. Yet the SIS claimed in their report that this organization was in fact a terrorist organization affiliated to the Muslim Brotherhood and cloaked under “human rights” to fulfill its goals. “The Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms has documented at least 1,500 enforced disappearances in the past four years, but some believe the real figure is much higher. In the words of a leading campaigner, Mohamed Lotfy, “making people disappear is a hallmark of the regime of President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi”,” Guerin stated.
To this, the SIS’s report replied: “Of the writer’s most dangerous claims was the one pertaining to human rights in Egypt, named the commission or the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms under the leadership of Mohamed Lotfy. In reality the organization is a political one following the Muslim Brotherhood, wearing the cloak of human rights, and was launched in August 2014. This organization is the Egyptian branch to what is called the International Commission for Rights and Freedoms, which was founded in Doha on October 9, 2013, with a declaration from an international conferenced under the title “The World in the Midst of Overturning the Peoples’ Will”, which was held in Istanbul on September 25 and 26, 2013.”
The SIS’s statement also tackled what they deemed as contradictions, bias, and personal impressions in Guerin’s narrative. For instance, when Guerin brought up the imprisonment of Alaa Abdel Fattah, the man she referred to as the “Icon of the 2011 Revolution”, she failed to mention any torture that he had or is being subjected to. To that end as well, the SIS have caught up on some of Guerin’s claims regarding President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, where she claims that her impressions of him since before taking office have been negative.
In terms of further bias that the SIS rebutted against, the report mentioned that Guerin’s video and photos only showed the parts of Egypt that strike a message of poverty and direness, in a manner that generalized the image of Egypt thusly. “Her video footage failed to show anything of Egypt, not even the cafes she used to meet her sources or the neighborhoods she had lived in,” the statement read.